Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fatigue Makes Killers of Truck Drivers - The Debate on HOS

There can be no dispute that fatigued and sleep deprived  truck drivers cause tractor trailer accidents that cause great devastation, injury and death. The Federal government has promulgated new rules on the hours that a truck driver can work to add an additional layer of safety on trucking operations by decreasing the hours of service in a week that a truck driver can drive.

Needless to say the trucking interests are fighting this rule and finding support primarily among their own stakeholders. However even some tort lawyers that are free market advocates find the additional layer of regulations burdensome. My good friend and colleague Michael Ehline has written a well thought out article on the hours of service for truckers being an uneccessary burden on the trucking industry.

Michael reasons that, " common sense, freedom and less regulations will lead to more innovation and safety.  After all, tort lawyers can sue an unreasonable trucker based upon ordinary negligence already. A reasonable trucking company who wants to avoid lawsuits will behave reasonably. "
However to me this misses the point of safety regulations. Yes truck accident lawyers can sue when a tractor trailer operator is negligent ( fails to act reasonably ) but that is after the fact. The idea here is safety prevention. Truckers push themselves beyond their safe capacity to drive. Often tacitly encouraged by their own company.
My dear friend Jonathan Rosenfeld and member of the circle of legal trust of which Michael Ehline is the founder wrote an article that seems to tacitly agree with Michael but also takes a wait and see position.

The New Rules Are Not a Drastic Change 

Here is a chart of the new hours of service rules.

11-Hour Driving Limit
May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
10-Hour Driving Limit
May drive a maximum of 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off duty.
14-Hour Limit
May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
15-Hour Limit
May not drive after having been on duty for 15 hours, following 8 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time is not included in the 15-hour period.
Rest Breaks
May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes. [49 CFR 397.5 mandatory "in attendance" time may be included in break if no other duties performed]
60/70-Hour Limit
May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
60/70-Hour Limit
May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. Must include two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. home terminal time, and may only be used once per week, or 168 hours, measured from the beginning of the previous restart.
Sleeper Berth Provision
Drivers using a sleeper berth must take at least 8 hours in the sleeper berth, and may split the sleeper-berth time into two periods provided neither is less than 2 hours.
Sleeper Berth Provision
Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.

The 11 hour driving limit and the 14 hour on duty limit have not been changed. The work week though will be cut by a potential estimate of 15 % from 80-82 hours to 70 hours.

Primary Concern of Trucking Industry is Utilization

The big concern of the industry is that the decrease in hours will cause an under utilization of trucking capacity. This could also lead to loss of drivers. See the article in fleetowner magazine. So be it if we are going to save lives. My thought is the railroads are more efficient and safer and their continued rebirth  in the long run will save our highway system and improve the economy. Thet certainly can pick up any slack caused by underutilization.

For a comprehensive review and my expanded commentary on the new trucking hours of service rules see my Columbus truck accident blog and my article titled Trucking Industry Grumbles About New Hours of Service Rules .

Needless to say, despite our difference of opinion, if an unsafe tractor trailer operator or trucking company injures you, you can count on us to be your uncompromising attorney and counselor at law that will advance your interests against any trucking company that negligently harms you. Sadly many truck crashes involve serious injury and death.

Further Government Source:

About the author:

Anthony Castelli Attorney is a vetted member of the circle of legal trust. He has over 32 years experience as a personal injury lawyer in Ohio. His internet properties focusing on Columbus motor vehicle accidents, injuries, and death claims are and

He has multiple other website properties and Google plus pages.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What Is the Real Risk for a Child Sustaining An Incapacitating Injury in a Car Accident - How To Prevent It

Injuries sustained in a car accident can be both physically and psychologically traumatic for a child. If the child luckily comes through the accident with minimal injuries, they may still suffer from psychological trauma. In severe car accidents, children may suffer incapacitating injuries that can change their entire lives forever.

Incapacitating Injuries

Incapacitating injuries are classified as injuries that disable a person to such a degree that they are unable to function normally as they did before their injury. This can include difficulties in walking, talking, and eating normally due to injuries such as lacerations, broken bones, or head and abdominal injuries. Incapacitating injuries can have long-term effects that can make life quite stressful for both parents and the injured child.

Children are at a high risk of sustaining incapacitating injuries in a car accident. In a 2010 study conducted by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it was found that using child safety seats for children aged three and under reduced the risk of incapacitating injuries considerably. In the study sample analyzed, it was concluded that 8% of children aged seven and under who were not using any sort of restraining device suffered incapacitating injuries. This is compared to only 1% of children aged seven and under who were using restraining devices that suffered incapacitating injuries.

Type of Car Accidents

The use of restraining devices such as car seats and seat belts has an impact on the severity and risk of incapacitating injuries in children. The type of car accident also affects the risk of such injuries from occurring.

In the same 2010 study conducted in the US, it was found that the incapacitating injuries occurred the most in rollover crashes. In rollover crashes, the car is impacted from all sides, thus affecting everyone in the car at almost every angle. If the child was not restrained in the rollover crash, they were at a much higher risk of sustaining incapacitating injuries. 26% of unrestrained children suffered incapacitating injuries, while only 9 – 10% of restrained children sustained the same injuries.

In car accidents that involved side or rear impact, the risk of unrestrained children sustaining injuries again was much higher than restrained children (8 % and 1 % respectively).

Restraining Devices

According to these results, incapacitating injuries can be prevented or at the least minimized by using age appropriate restraint devices such as safety car seats or seat belts. Children who were restrained either by car seats or seat belts had much less of a risk of suffering incapacitating injuries than unrestrained children. There are age appropriate restraints that must be used for children, and it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their child is safely secured in the vehicle before travelling.

The 2010 study has made it very clear about the real risk of children sustaining incapacitating injuries
in car accidents. We cannot control the type or extremity of a car accident, but we can control how safe we keep our children. Thus, it is very important that parents take all safety measures very seriously to ensure the safety of their children.

Some Useful References For Child Safety:



  • Thank you to Jonathan Rosenfeld, a car accident attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, 33 N. Dearborn Street, #1930, Chicago, IL 60602 (847) 835-8895.

     My Comment
    Jonathan Rosenfeld spends a lot of time looking at children's safety issues and injury prevention. Since we are both Dads it is an issue that concerns us both personally and professionally. I asked him for his thoughts and I am grateful he took time to prepare this article that I am proud to share.

    If your child is injured in Ohio I would be happy to discuss how I can help. I can be reached at 513-621-2345